Two men were arrested for flying a drone too close to a New York Police Department helicopter in New York City, but the police and the drone pilots are telling different stories.
The cops say the drone was flying 2,000 feet over a major bridge just after midnight earlier this week. The drone pilots say they weren't flying nearly that high.
Wilkins Mendoza, 34, and Remy Castro, 23, say they were flying their DJI Phantom 2 only about 300 feet in the air when a police helicopter started pursuing the little drone. "We're trying to get the drone away from the helicopter, and it keeps on following the drone," Remy's brother Jonathan told The New York Daily News. "We have video proof that we are not following him, he's following us."
The DJI Phanton 2 can reach heights of 2,000 feet, but it's more commonly flown at much lower altitudes. Its limited battery life also would have forced it to land after about 20 minutes.
The two pilots have been charged with felony reckless endangerment, a serious crime that implies a risk of death and disregard for human life. The drone came within 800 feet of the helicopter, close enough to lead to a collision if the drone were above or in front of the helicopter.
Drones, or quadcopters, are treated like model aircraft. Flying them is legal for now, as the Federal Aviation Administration considers which rules and standards should apply to the new class of flyers.